Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On being a notebook polygamist

I made a discovery at New Year. Did you know that there are whole blogs dedictated to Filofaxes? They are quite fascinating. Blinging your filofax, collecting filofaxes, comparing  filofaxes, considering which diary inserts to put in your filofax. All topics for blog fodder. And it is strangely addictive to read all the details about how people set up their filofaxes.   I sent Dennis a link to the woman who changed her diary about eighteen times in one year. Just to show him that, in comparison, I am normal, even if I am a notebook polygamist as you will see...So I am reciprocating with one filofax post of my own to contribute to the genre and to show how to meld a business tool with creative activity.

When I was at the Bar and travelling to speak at conferences I  used a filofax and it was stuffed with appointments, train bookings, flight times, hotel names, invoice details, all the stuff neccessary to keep a self-employed career alive. As I left the bar my filofax (personal sized)  was on its last legs and was graciously retired. But now I drive the same route every day and there is a whole department of people whose job is to keep my diary, print it out each day and give me the necessary files. I may be senior, but basically I do what I am told. So what need for a filofax?

Well, they are nice to touch and fun to write in and you can buy specialised stationery for it. So, when I returned from travelling I bought a new one and decided to go larger (a5)  and hotter pinker on the basis that this would now mainly contain details of my personal and creative life. Which was fine until I went to Apple and became married to the ipad. I spent less time with my frst love as I explored the ipad diary and productivity apps. The ipad is great, but I missed the actual writing with a pen. Although the business like nature of a filofax was not quite working for my creative brain.
So come new year it was time to try to come up with a System for information managmenet. Not just a diary because there are, ahem, one or two other affairs with pretty little notebooks going on as well. After much thought and blog reading I now have a System to justify endless buying of notebooks  and the use of pretty pens maximise informational control and making the filofax play nicely with the Ipad.

I intend to do some tasteful blinging of the filofax but so far the only step in the direction is to add in as my front cover this photo taken by Diane Perin Hock of two chairs which are waiting in California for us to return to them together one day. It reminds me of good times and gives me hope for the future. Then I have notepages so I can flip it open and jot notes quickly.
Next is a horizontal year planner. This is where the Ipad cannot match up for a colourful visual view of where I have made my main committments. This really helps to show when and why I cannot take on anything else. Red is for holidays or travel, green is for major art qulting committments like mini retreats or classes. Black is work travel and soon I will be adding in blue for the Olympics when I intend to join in the sporting actvity by sitting on my butt in front of the TV for a month.

The next tab is my diary. I would have liked a timed page but Filofax do not cater for people whose committments are 7 amd to 9 am and then 5pm to midnight so it is a plain week to two page setup with weekly goals in the top box. I track my studio time and art committments in green and add personal appointments and daily tasks in black. In between I keep some ongoing to do lists so I can see how I am doing with bigger projects I have broken down into steps. Finally at the begining of each month I have a coloured piece  of notepaper to contain monthly goals both personal and creative. Behind the diary I have tabs containing notes on my overall life plan, lists (shopping, books read etc), my personal financial accounts, a quiting tab with details of classes and shows and spare paper.

I tend to keep the filofax on my home desk most days but the ipad comes with me everywhere. So on the ipad I have major dates replicated in the diary but I also use the Daily Notes and To Do App. This app is linked to a diary and allows you to have different subject tabs for each day. so I have tabs that correspond to those in my filofax. If i am out and about I can jot a note in there and later I can clear those notes off either by actioning them or putting them in the appropriate place in the filofax. This is especially useful when I am web browsing and see a link I want to follow up later or if I am shopping and want to make an note of expenditure. The aim is to keep this app as empty as possible which is odd but it works for me!

I also use Nozbe to keep track of the different steps on my art projects. I could do this by paper list but I like the way it will give you one list of all the next steps you have to do and how you can change the due dates without scribbling anything out.  I use Evernote as a big collection of virtual notebooks. This is great for collating emails or clippings from the web on a given subject. So my Evernote notebooks include travel bookings, creativity articles,  and research on individual artists or topics of inspiration. So much easier to collate images and notes than trying to print them all off. Plus they are then available to me on any computer. If there are any images I think it would be fun to share I also stick on a Pinterest board.

But then of course there are the rest of the notebooks. I like to journal. The sitting down with a good pen and writing thoughts down kind of journalling. For years I have been using the same type of journals which come in two kinds of covers but in both you can replace the stock postcard supplied ( of which this owl is  one) and  I use blue fountain pen ink on the lined pages and tuck clippings, tickets etc for memories in the back cover secured by the intergal elastic band. Sadly these journals are becoming hard to find and I am currently trawling the web for lone copies. I may have to join a notebook dating site in due course to find a new version. (Moleskins are recommended but they are so drab!) At New Years I spent happy hours and hours scribbling in this journal. Dennis was somewhat bemused when I told him I was writing my plan for what to write in my other notebooks.
Then I keep a creativity journal. The nearest I get to a sketchbook. I doodle and stick things in and write down what I have done and what I plan to do.  It is a thought bucket and must be plain pages and written with a black pilot drawing pen.
I am happy to change the style of my creativity journal as long as they are smooth plain pages. This is the current one.

Then, one day I found these journals. They come in so many colours, Far more than I have here. I have dedicated these notebooks to my Art Learning Notes  where I pretend I am still in education and make notes from books or internet sites about material I need to know. So one is about crtiquing art, another about art history etc. One has some work in on the theme of African Ladies.

How, you might say, do I cart all these around? Well, they live in this special basket which I do move from room to room. In the morning I decide which items I might reasonably have time to use out of the house and put those in my work bag or handbag and in the evening they come back to sleep in this basket which also has some book on creativity in it. The exception is when I go for my Sunday morning ritual tea and reading session at Cedar Farm when I just take the whole basket.  I am assuming that is what my husband meant when he said I had become a notebook basket case.

So, that is my complex system and it is working for me. Except, best Quilting Buddy came last week and bought me a red Magma notebook and a little Orla Kierly notebook. So Now I need to review my system.....

What works for you? show me!


Gerrie said...

That photo is Bishop's ranch!! I would like to return there, too.

Sandy said...

Okay, I am just a bit tired after all that!
I like writing a bit, but I would begin to feel like I was being controlled with your system.

However, I am GLAD it works for you! You always come up with wise messages on the various lists, so I am glad you are sharing out what you have recorded in your notebooks.
Sandy in Bracknell

Kristin L said...

I think I may actually be doing a bare bones version of your system. I have my iPhone that synchs with my computer to which I input dates and appointments and deadlines. I also have my to-do list on electronic sticky notes so I can look at the whole list at once. I've found that I like a paper calendar as well, so I have one hanging on the wall which keeps track of household things like whether I'm carpooling mornings or afternoons on which week and who has what after school activities when (even though that stuff is also in the electronic calendar). Finally, all my art notes and sketches and personal thoughts and ramblings and occasional clippings are jotted with whatever writing implement is at hand into a succession of pretty plain paper notebooks. I'm am nearing the end of a spiral bound one made from recycled papers and look forward to the next which will be a handmade beauty by our 12x12 sister Nikki.

Diane Perin Hock said...

You are indeed a woman after my own heart. This is yet another of the ways that we are so alike that it is scary. And may I say that I am highly impressed that you organized your books enough to be able to photograph and explain what each type is for.

I think you might need a notebook to manage your notebooks. :-) (She says, helpfully.)

Diane Perin Hock said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention... I think I need a big Filofax now.

Diane Perin Hock said...

And not that I'm shopping already or anything (ahem) but did you happen to see this, where you can create your own forms and templates and them print them out on whatever paper you like for your size of Filofax?


magsramsay said...

I thought my system was simpler until I started counting....
I have a wall planner at work and Outlook on computer (although that's used mainly by other people putting meeting dates in for me!)
For home stuff we have a kitchen calendar for appointments etc.

For creative purposes I have: another calendar with deadlines, shows, classes etc; an A4 looseleaf folder with official stuff, forms etc; about 8 A4 'display' folders with clear pockets for photos, clippings drawings on different themes; 2 A5 sketchbooks (1 portrait, 1 landscape); 2 A6 sketchbooks (ditto).
My equivalent of a filofax is a cheap black slimline pocket diary with extra pages pasted in - been using them for years and it's the 'master' which has every appointment, deadline, address.

Working Mum said...

My system: one Teacher's Planner (can't function without it), one kitchen calendar and an exercise book to stick recipes in. Job done!

Tracy Reinhardt said...

I have multiple journals as well, if filofax had insert with better paper or I was better (or less lazy) at making them I might not want others. Then again, I might... I just like them :)